The union representing thousands of University of California lecturers cancelled its two-day strike early Wednesday after reaching a ‘tentative agreement’ with the UC system .
The University Council-American Federation of Teachers, which represents non-tenure track faculty and librarians, announced it had won “transformative and groundbreaking improvements in crucial areas, including job stability, workload, and compensation,” according to a Wednesday tweet.
The UCAFT union said University of California management “bargained in good faith,” and classes would proceed without disruption Wednesday and Thursday.
Lecturers at nine University of California campuses originally planned to begin a two-day strike on Wednesday over what they called unfair labor practices. Now, instead of walking the picket line, union members will gather “across the state for celebratory rallies,” the union said.
The UC system, which spans 10 college campuses across California, encompasses over 280,000 students and more than 227,000 faculty and staff. Close to 5,000 lecturers each year are employed by UC, according to the UCAFT union.
The strike would have involved canceling classes and halting grading, meetings, and other teaching-related work. Over 91% of union members voted to authorize the strike, according to the union’s Twitter page.
Lecturers planned to strike at the University of California, Davis, Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Merced, Santa Barbara, Riverside, Los Angeles, Irvine, and San Diego, according to the union. University of California, San Francisco, was the only campus not expected to strike.
The union said it filed seven unfair labor practice charges in the past 20 months over the UC management’s refusal to engage in negotiating processes and rejection of the union’s contract. The two parties have been negotiating for a new contract since April 2019, but have been unable to find a compromise — until now.
Some of the unfair labor practice charges include refusal to bargain over paid leave policy, rejecting mutually agreed-upon contract terms, and not bargaining over settlement terms after withholding employer retirement contributions.
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The labor practice charges “show a clear pattern of disrespect, lack of consideration, and unlawful actions, all of which interferes with our negotiating process and undermines our collective bargaining rights,” the union wrote.
Before the deal announced Wednesday was hammered out, Ryan King, associate director of media relations at the UC president’s office, said in a statement that UC was “disappointed” with the union’s decision to strike.
According to King, UC offered a proposal to the union during an all-day negotiation session Tuesday. The offer provided increased compensation, additional benefits, clarifications about workload, and pre-six appointments, he said. Pre-six lecturers are those in their first six years of employment.
Unlike full-time faculty members at UC schools, lecturers are ineligible for tenure. They have a high turnover rate, with a quarter of lecturers not returning each year, CalMatters reported.